Dear Diary

I don’t even know who she is anymore.

I cannot shake the feeling of unease and fear that chips away at my soul.

Year 6 pupil at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School

The Diary entry of Macbeth on the night he killed King Duncan, as imagined by one pupil in Year 6 at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School. In fact these two lines are the start of the first two paragraphs of an extraordinarily well thought out letter. My day at St Catherine’s was a first visit for FINDING THE WILL and, I hope, not the last. The children were immediately drawn in to the story and got totally immersed in the characters, their motivations and their inner thoughts and feelings. I was thrilled and privileged to receive two of their Dear Diary letters (follow up work), which are so good that I’ve made audio recordings of them. Click below to hear:

Macbeth’s inner thoughts courtesy of Year 6 pupil at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School
    Macbeth’s inner thoughts courtesy of another Year 6 pupil at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School

    Amazing aren’t they? Remember this is the work of 10/11 Year olds. Outstanding!

    All hail Duncan, King of Scotland!

    Dreaming at St Catherine’s

    MACBETH was only half of my day in Birmingham though. The second half was spent with Year 5 as we explored A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. What a jolly afternoon this was too! as requested, the teacher had not told the children a thing about the play, so it was pure joy listening to the gasps as the story unfolded (not to mention the laughter!). The children had also been looking at ROMEO & JULIET as part of Shakespeare Week, and quickly made the connection between the play within a play at the end (Pyramus and Thisbe) and the tragic events in Verona. This is what some of the children said about the whole afternoon:

    “I enjoyed the workshop because I got to experience a Shakespeare play that I have never heard before and I got to play Puck.”

    “I enjoyed the workshop because I got to play Peter Quince and I enjoyed doing the acting and I got to scream.”

    “I liked how we got to watch the play come together and I found it very funny.”

    “I enjoyed the workshop because I got to feel as if I was the actual character, Titania.”

    “I liked how the story was hard to understand but Jules broke it down for us. It was very intense especially when the Duke, his wife and Hermia’s Dad came.”

     “I enjoyed the workshop because we got to know the story of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and I liked being one of the characters.”

    Year 5 pupils at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School

    Huge thanks to Mr Minchin for organising this visit – I sincerely hope it won’t be the last!

    The Terminator

    A regular diary visit over the last few years has been to lovely Castleview Primary in Slough. MACBETH is a story that never fails to capture the imagination of Year 6 at this warm and friendly primary school, and this year didn’t disappoint! King Duncan set us off with his desire to ‘terminate’ the Thane of Cawdor for being a traitor. When he, King Duncan, was terminated by Macbeth, he was at least content that he’d had a good last meal: Peacocks, potatoes, rum, mead and chocolate ice cream (not necessarily in that order!). The murderers of Banquo (being professionals) negotiated a price for assassinating a grown up and a child. Starting off with 5 bags of Gold for an adult and 2 for a child, they eventually settled for 6.5 bags plus new weapons. A good deal I’d say. Of course they didn’t get any of it because they failed to complete the job – ah the perils of freelancing! The Year 6 children at this school are some of the most articulate and focused actors I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year. Thank you Miss Khan for inviting us back again!

    Castleview Primary School on Twitter

    What do you call an elephant in a phone box?


    Thank you to Trinculo in Year 8 for this! He had some cracking jokes to keep King Alonso happy before THE TEMPEST ruined everyone’s voyage! St Dominic’s School near Godalming is a caring and inspiring special school in an amazing location. Nick and I were delighted to spend a day with Years 7 and 8 working on A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and THE TEMPEST respectively. In special schools, we make the workshops bespoke. Time is often more limited and we change the actors at regular intervals. In fact, during A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, some of the teachers became actors – an extra thrill for the students watching the staff fall in and out of love at the squeeze of a purple flower! There were some cracking performances from students too, some of whom took on more than one role. It’s so rewarding watching young people blossom before your very eyes.

    After the tempest raged and we landed on Prospero’s island, our cast was joined by a couple of toys playing Ariel and Miranda. It certainly made it more comfortable to give Miranda a hug! And Trinculo just kept the jokes coming…….oh alright, here’s another:

    Man gives up chocolate to become a magician.

    “I have a few Twix up my sleeve!”

    Trinculo – St Dominic’s School

    So thank you to Mrs Pryor for organising this visit – I think we have another date in the diary to work with Year 9 on TWELFTH NIGHT.

    Lots more to tell you about next month including The Merthyr Tydfil Children’s Literature Festival where we will be running MACBETH workshops in Welsh. Until then, have a lovely Easter break everyone!


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